Students vote on milestone referendum for constitutional convention

By Daily Illini Staff Report

Students who voted Tuesday filled in bubbles not only for people, but for issues, including whether or not Illinois should hold a Constitutional Convention.

A referendum on Tuesday’s ballot asked voters whether the state should call a constitutional convention. The statewide question is required every 20 years.

“I think it’s a good idea to go back over it and make sure it’s as good as it can be,” said Jim Wright, freshman in LAS.

If passed, voters will go back to the polls to elect convention delegates. Any changes drawn up by delegates would go back to Illinois voters for final approval.

Voters rejected the same question by a 3-1 margin the last time it was on the ballot, in 1988, and opponents including the League of Women Voters, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Farm Bureau and AFL-CIO of Illinois raised some $600,000 to argue against a convention this time around.

While some students, like Adam McFadden, junior in LAS, did not know about the Constitutional Convention before seeing it on the ballot.

“They tried to write it very biased towards not having it,” McFadden said. “They had an insert that rephrased the question so it wasn’t as biased.”

While some students had not heard of the issue, others felt more strongly.

“It is really important to have a Constitutional Convention because the last one we had was years ago,” said Emily Henkles, senior in LAS. It would shed a much-needed light on Illinois politics in a democratic way to create change.”

Opponents said a convention would open up the Illinois Constitution to unnecessary changes and meddling by interest groups that would do nothing to solve problems. Proponents argued that state corruption and insider dealmaking won’t end without substantive change.

Keep checking dailyillini.com for more updates.

Lauren Laws, Andrew Maloney, Marie Wilson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.